A Matter of Life and Death: Women and the New Eugenics

May 18, 2018


New book challenges the development community to reconsider its approach to the need to remove barriers to girls and women accessing family planning services, in the context of a world with a growing population.

A long-term volunteer of the Margaret Pyke Trust, the coordinator of the Population & Sustainability Network, has authored a book calling for changes to the way the international community consider population issues. Barbara Rogers argues that the solution has to be an intense focus on women’s needs.

Barbara criticises opposition to family planning as a form of “modern eugenics” where rival factions in effect force women to bear more children than they would choose. Barbara argues that UN conferences have reached a dead end because of implacable opposition, especially from the Holy See. Barbara said, “The UN specialised agencies should be challenged to incorporate family planning into their programmes, perhaps with a resolution at the UN General Assembly. All development requires greater health provision, and this should always incorporate maternity care and family planning.” The book contains recommendations for new approaches from national governments and NGOs, to break the deadlock on this crucial issue.

David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust concluded, “Barbara has supported our work by volunteering for us for some time. Given her level of knowledge on the subject, I am unsurprised that she has now written this thoughtful book. Barbara’s book provides her own views, and not those of the Trust or Population & Sustainability Network, but it is a great addition to the growing debate and certainly worth a read.”

“A Matter of Life and Death: Women and the New Eugenics” by Barbara Rogers (Brown Dog Books 2018, £9.99/ $16.89) is available from Foyles and other good bookshops, and on Amazon.

Network members speak at the IUCN’s 70th anniversary meeting in London

May 3, 2018


Population & Sustainability Network members joined International Union for Conservation of Nature’s UK National Committee in London yesterday, to speak at an event hosted by PSN’s coordinator, the Margaret Pyke Trust.

Population & Sustainability Network members, the Margaret Pyke Trust and Blue Ventures, were pleased to be invited to speak at a celebratory event marking for the 70th anniversary of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in London yesterday.

The event, “Nature and human wellbeing – scoring common goals”, brought together IUCN members and the UK’s leading conservation organisations to hear information on how some of the IUCN’s UK members contribute to the delivery of the people-centred Sustainable Development Goals.  

Delegates were delighted to be joined by Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, who shared DEFRA’s vision of a sustainable future and praised the IUCN’s for its achievements over the last 70 years.

In addition to the Margaret Pyke Trust and Blue Ventures, the event featured a range of speakers from IUCN UK member organisations, such as UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development, Zoological Society of London, and Sustainability and Environmental Education.

David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust, the coordinating body of the Population & Sustainability Network, said, “The Trust was honoured to be invited to not only host the celebration of the IUCN’s 70th anniversary, which also marked the IUCN UK’s 21st birthday, but to also present on the important links between sexual and reproductive health and conservation through its work and the work of Network members Blue Ventures, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, Friends of the Earth, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, and Pathfinder International.”

Why Women Will Save the Planet

March 9, 2018


The Margaret Pyke Trust’s Carina Hirsch has co-authored a book with 26 other leading global women. Big cities don’t have to mean a dystopian future. They can be turned around to be powerhouses of well-being and environmental sustainability – if we empower women.

The book is a unique collaboration between C40 and Population & Sustainability Network member, Friends of the Earth. The book showcases pioneering city mayors, key voices in the environmental and feminist movements, and academics. Each chapter demonstrates both the need for women’s empowerment for climate action and the powerful change it can bring. It’s a rallying call for the planet, for women and for everyone. No need to start at the beginning of the book though, head straight to chapter 23 “Family planning: a win-win for women and sustainability”!

You can buy the book here.

European Parliament report links Family Planning and climate

January 29, 2018


On 16 January 2018, the plenary of the European Parliament (EP) voted on the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) titled “Women, gender equality and climate justice”. The Committee on Development (DEVE) of the EU Parliament had previously adopted the Opinion in November 2017 and we are very pleased to announce that the report adopted retained the language on the importance of gender-responsive approaches such as Population, Health and Environment Programmes, as proposed by the Margaret Pyke Trust and PSN member, DSW.

The report adopted by the EU Parliament includes the opinion of the EP Development Committee (DEVE) which:

-‘Urge[s] the need to identify and promote programmatic approaches that have been proven to be gender-responsive such as Population, Health and Environment Programmes (PHE) (among others), that provide an integrated solution to health, gender and environmental challenges, including climate change response and contribute to the achievement of the respective SDGs’.
-‘Calls for the identification and reinforcement of specific gender-sensitive strategies that support the gender and social dimensions outlined by the global climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including voluntary, rights-based family planning as a potential adaptation strategy.’

The resolution passed with 485 votes in favour, 117 votes against and 20 abstentions.

  • For more information on the FEMM report:

  • To watch the debate:

Cheetah Conservation Fund joins the Population & Sustainability Network

January 25, 2018


The Cheetah Conservation Fund has become the latest conservation NGO to join the Population & Sustainability Network. The Cheetah Conservation Fund and Network coordinator, the Margaret Pyke Trust, have marked the occasion by publishing “The importance of human reproductive health and rights for cheetah conservation”. This is perhaps the first time a paper making the connections between human reproductive health and rights and the conservation of a specific species has been published.

We are delighted to announce not only has the Cheetah Conservation Fund become the latest member of the Population & Sustainability Network, but has also published a paper co-authored with the Margaret Pyke Trust on the importance of considering human reproductive health and rights in cheetah conservation programmes. Dr. Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, said, “For the last twenty-five years the Cheetah Conservation Fund has worked tirelessly to conserve the global cheetah population. We have always partnered with rural communities to empower and improve their lives, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because we believe conservation and community development go hand in hand. As the links between conservation, population growth, and barriers to communities accessing sexual and reproductive health services, including rights-based family planning services, have become increasingly apparent, we knew it was time we took these links into account in our organisational strategy.”

The Cheetah Conservation Fund has therefore joined a growing number of conservation organisations recognising the importance of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the communities with which they work, and when developing conservation policy and programme design. David Johnson, Chief Executive of the Margaret Pyke Trust, said, “Programmes integrating family planning improvements with conservation actions have been demonstrated to have greater conservation, health and gender outcomes than traditional single sector ‘health’ or ‘conservation’ programmes, so everyone benefits. We’re excited that the Cheetah Conservation Fund has made the first step to implementing such a project with us, by collaborating on this policy paper.” 

Over the last 100 years the global cheetah population has decreased by around 90%, so that today there are only around 7,000 adult and adolescent cheetahs remaining in the wild. Currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), cheetah face threats including habitat loss, declines in prey, poaching, the illegal pet trade and climate change. Many conservationists believe their status should be reclassified by the IUCN as “Endangered”.

There is very often an overlap of the areas of most conservation significance and where the barriers to family planning services are greatest, and as human needs and settlements grow, so do pressures on cheetah habitat. Improving knowledge of contraception and the provision of rights-based family planning services can only ever be one part of any conservation programme, but it is an important consideration nonetheless. It is exciting that another conservation organisation has recognised these connections, and has committed to collaborating with expert health partner organisations to address human and environmental health in an integrated and holistic way.

Read the paper: “The importance of human reproductive health and rights for cheetah conservation.”